Bricknells Letting Agents

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Bricknells Letting Agents is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

www.bricknells-rentals.co.uk

1BRICKNELLS LETTING AGENTS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Managing Director DawnHolmes
Staff training is so important
Operating across South Yorkshire, Bricknells Rentals are an
independent residential letting agency. As members of the
Association of Residential Letting Agents and the Property
Ombudsman, they are committed to seeing regulation enforced
and both tenants and landlords behaving responsibly. Managing
Director Dawn Holmes discusses the growing importance of and
reliance on the private rented sector and how councils could
benefit from working with responsible letting agents.
We are an independent residential letting agent based in Wickersley, Rotherham.
We manage residential properties in South Yorkshire, across Sheffield, Barnsley,
Doncaster and Rotherham. We started trading in 2000; over the years, we have
seen real changes in the residential letting industry, with over 150 pieces of
legislation having been introduced.
As new rules and regulations are introduced, we have to react. We have systemised
our service by documenting our policies and procedures. We continue to educate
and train our staff in these new regulations, and we have embraced social media.
However, this must be a continuous process to ensure that we remain a competent
and professional letting agent and that all of our landlords are compliant with
current law.
We are also members of two professional industry organisations: the Association of
Residential Letting Agents and the Property Ombudsman. It has taken us many years
to gain the valuable experience needed to successfully operate in the residential letting
market. We offer a professional service with a focus on customer care, something
that is recognised by clients and local councils alike. Many hours of staff training and
FACTS ABOUT
BRICKNELLS LETTING AGENTS
»Managing Director:
DawnHolmes
»Established in 2000 as
Rotherham Rentals; trading as
Bricknells Rentals since 2004
»Based in Rotherham, South
Yorkshire
»Services: Residential lettings
with property acquisition
»No. of employees: 12
»715 properties under
management
Bricknells Letting
Agents
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| BRICKNELLS LETTING AGENTS
continuing professional development
are spent each year to stay ahead of
the exponential rise inregulation.
The growing importance of
the private rented sector
The English housing survey estimates
that the private rented sector accounts
for 4.7 million or 20 per cent of all
households in the country, with
landlords themselves managing
an estimated 40 to 45 per cent of
thatnumber.
Because of a number of factors,
including immigration, increased life
expectancy and more single households,
we need to build 240,000 households
at the right prices and in the right
locations to equal demand. Unless the
government spends billions on acquiring
land and building council housing,
demand will continue to outstrip supply.
Consequently, we anticipate demand
for rented properties will continue
to grow, as the younger generation
see renting as a more viable choice,
giving them flexibility, affordability
and options that being tied to a house
cannot give. As such, the PRS is going
to play a big part in providing safe and
affordable housing that meets tenants’
aspirations well into the future.
In the main, landlords are investors and
look to achieve profit on investment
capital in return for their risk. Make
it too difficult or tax them too heavily
and landlords will look to exit the
market and invest elsewhere. Those
that stay in the PRS may seek to
manage properties themselves in order
to maintain profitability. Unless they
self-educate or use the resources of
professional organisations such as the
Residential Landlords Association or
the National Landlords Association,
they risk falling foul of the regulations,
which could ultimately result in a fine,
prosecution or even prison.
We are not suggesting that all
properties should be managed by
letting agents, as there are very
many competent, self-managing
landlords. However, letting agents do
provide that personal connection to
ensure that the tenancy is managed
in a professional manner and, more
importantly, managed in accordance
with the correct legislation.
If the demand for private rented
housing is going to increase, and for
the PRS to play its part, there must be
encouragement for good landlords
to remain in the sector and new ones
toenter.
The need to enforce compliance
Education and development play a
large part in ensuring that competent
landlords are active within the sector.
Membership of a landlord redress
scheme, soon to be required by the
government, should be earned through
providing evidence, rather than just a
membership fee. For the scheme to be
effective, it should have the power to
enforce compliance with regulations.
While there is pressure for landlords to
operate within a regulated framework,
it is equally important that tenants rent
responsibly. Each tenant has individual
aspirations, and, as letting agents,
we have a duty of care to the tenant.
We are able to guide them through
A barn conversion
in Sheffield that we
manage
The PRS is
going to play
a big part in
providing safe
and affordable
housing
well into the
future and we
look forward
to being part
of this
3BRICKNELLS LETTING AGENTS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
the letting process, ensuring that they
receive the contracted service and
tenancy. Importantly, we fully manage
the tenancy, includingmaintenance.
While we do everything we can to
help to build a strong relationship
between landlord and tenant, not all
relationships go quite so smoothly.
There are instances where tenants do
breach their tenancies, particularly
in respect of ongoing rent arrears. In
this scenario, the key for landlords is a
prompt resolution. Currently, landlords
can wait an average of 22 weeks to
gain possession through the courts,
which is both costly and frustrating.
If letting agents are to play a proactive
part in providing a professional and
excellent service to the PRS, costs of
training and development will need
to be apportioned to keep pace
withlegislation.
The tenant fee ban will assist tenants
in securing tenancies but will force
letting agents to reassess their charges
and identify what services they are
providing for free. Loss of income
and increased charges are likely to be
recovered from increased rents and
the possibility that some landlords may
self-manage.
Improving standards across
the industry
To complement increased enforcement
through landlord redress schemes
and to maintain high standards
within the industry, councils could
develop a register of “approved and
responsible agents” to work with in
order to improve standards within
the housing stock. Inclusion on
such a register would be based on
evidenced membership of recognised
professional bodies, together with the
local authorities carrying out proactive
inspections of the services provided.
Like the majority of letting agents in
the country, we are passionate about
our industry. We welcome measured
and well-thought-out legislation,
provided it is consistently enforced. The
industry, letting agents in particular,
needs to collaborate with both national
and local government, as professional
letting agents are an integral
component in mending a broken
housing market. We will continue to
work with local government and other
agencies to share best practice and to
ensure that housing stock in our area
of South Yorkshire is improved for the
benefit of landlords and tenants alike.
We are
passionate
about our
industry and
we strive to be
better
Our team

www.bricknells-rentals.co.uk

This article was sponsored by Bricknells Letting Agents. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.